We interview Jordi Peix, Banc dels Aliments’s Vice-President in Barcelona, an organization that has just reached 25 years of history and that was founded thanks to the philanthropists’ collaboration as Josep Torné, who had started Fundació Roger Torné three years before Fundació Roger. This special link makes us feel doubly grateful of the labor that Banc dels Aliments has carried out during all these years.
In Spain, and especially in the big cities where the social disparities increase, there are people who are hungry. It is considered to be a hunger the shortage of basic food, which causes scarcity and social exclusion. The lack of food is a very serious phenomenon, since it affects especially children by affecting their development, both physical and cultural, affecting in their social integration as citizens with all the rights.
We have seen in his blog Bertolt Brecht’s precious poem that speaks about the visibility as the first step to receive help. In this sense, do you believe that in the latter years of welfare state we have forgotten the people who have needs? Have we closed our eyes?
The offer of a society of well-being that offered the arrival of democracy provoked the population’s disinterest regarding to their participation in the help of the neediest, since they supposed that it was of a responsibility of the government. The current crisis, which we cannot to forget that began at the end of 2007 and became deeper in 2008, has provoked a strong reaction of society in the fight against poverty and hunger. The Spanish citizens have reacted assuming directly responsibilities. In all the corners of our country, associations are constituted to give an answer to the call of poverty, without forgetting the fundamental role of the family to protect their members affected by the crisis. The most affected ones are the immigrants who lack this fundamental pillar of relationship. It is necessary to open the eyes in front of the poor ones that walk our streets searching material to recycle, of persons whose life is hanging of a thread: of a thread of brass.
Your organization works to guarantee to all the persons their right to food not only sufficient, but also healthy. Is quantity so important as quality?
From 1995 the Food Bank of Barcelona, elaborated a strategy to be able to obtain a balanced diet. In order to achieve it, it initiated the search of new supply sources, which finally culminated with the collection of certain food that we do not receive, requesting for the products that allow to balance the food diet. In this respect it is necessary to recognize the labor of the multiple donations that are generated in the schools, the firms and in the ingenious and varied spontaneous actions that are arising in a dynamic society that is assuming its responsibility towards the ones with needs.
In this issue of Inspira we also speak about children’s obesity, a pathology that, a priori, is related with persons who don’t have enough food but, is obesity linked with poverty?
The malnutrition can often surprise, since it visually contrasts with obesity problems, as a result of food basic imbalances that entail pernicious effects on health. It is not a question of distributing only food, but also of offering a basic spreading in the use of the suitable food for each age, for children and also for the old people. This is why a new source of supply of basic food has been opened by asking to para-pharmacy firms in order to obtain food of quality, especially vitamin complements and proteins.
How have society needs changed since Bank of food was founded 25 years ago?
The Bank of Food that was created 25 years ago has been re-founded several times. With the Olympic Games the huts disappeared, just when a period of strong recession began together with the increase of poverty and social exclusion. At the end of the nineties, the Bank of Food did a great effort to be adapted to the increasing demand of food, so it initiated a new stage generating a solidary network, which was departed from industries, logistic platforms and supermarkets and finished in the charitable entities that act globally on the problems of the affected people, not only in relation to the food demand, but also in the set of their needs. In Barcelona the phenomenon of shanty towns has appeared again, in the hillsides of Tibidabo, but also in the neighborhoods such as the modern and remodelled area of 22@ neighbourhood, where one can find stores of scrap and immigrants’ groups that live in old industrial left stores. The Bank of Food has as task performing by means of the voluntary work, which offers the most valuable thing, their time towards the ones who need. Nowadays it carries out its basic task with 187 permanent volunteers and receives more than 7.000 volunteers who answer its call for punctual actions.
Briefly, if someone asks you what is the most important to do to collaborate with the Bank of Foods, what would you say?
In a society where poverty increases, squandering is a scandal. This is why it is necessary to have a brave attitude against the squandering, beginning in our own home. The Bank of Food is promoting a solidary local network in the neighborhood and in the schools. To collaborate with the action of the Bank of Food in the fight against poverty, I would say to this person that he or she should go towards the charitable entities that perform near their houses in order that he/she joins the daily fight against the poverty of proximity, where real problems of social exclusion are better seen.